The UK’s largest government supplier of interpreting services is deploying a new weapon for police in the fight against crime and terrorism.
Law enforcement agencies will have instant access to thebigword Group’s video remote interpreting service when questioning detained suspects who speak limited English.
The service has the potential to dramatically speed up criminal investigations where time can be a crucial factor. It can also reduce public spending on travel costs.
The service has been made possible by new guidelines issued by the Home Office which allow for secure and accurate communication between a suspect and an interpreter who is not physically present.
Larry Gould, chief executive of thebigword, said: “Our new on-demand service for video remote interpreting will give police officers an extra hand in their fight against crime and terrorism.
“Instead of having to wait for an interpreter to arrive at the police station to help question a suspect who speaks limited English, officers can rapidly connect to an expert linguist and pursue their investigation without losing any valuable time.
“This could be the difference between life and death in fast-moving criminal and terrorism investigations.”
thebigword is trialing the service in London and New York ahead of full launch later this year.
Security consultant Michael Brooker, a former director of language and cultural services at the Metropolitan Police, introduced an early video conferencing platform in London at the start of the decade.
He said video remote interpreting speeds up investigations, aids the recovery of proceeds of crime and reduces public spending, particularly on travel costs.
Mr Brooker, who worked as a senior detective, said: “You have to act quickly with evi-dence gathering. Delays can harm an investigation.”
The £60m-turnover group holds the Ministry of Justice contract for interpreting services and provides expert linguists to courts, tribunals, prisons, the probation service and other organisations in the justice sector, such as the Crown Prosecution Service and police forces.
Its suite of technology-enabled language services has helped to rapidly expand the num-ber of police force customers over the last year.
thebigword’s most recent contract win is to supply a full set of language services to Bed-fordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies in a combined procurement exercise.
The group provides telephone interpreting services to 14 forces and counting under a Crown Commercial Services framework.
It is now expanding the range of services it supplies to these and other forces across the UK to meet demand for translation and interpreting.